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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Melky: Say it Ain't So

As a San Francisco Giants fan, I was stunned when Melky Cabrera was banned for 50 games for using PEDs (performance enhancing drugs). When asked, he didn't deny it. He admitted that he'd taken a banned substance and should've known better. And I agree. He should have known better than taking a substance that has been banned by Major League Baseball.

That said, those of you who've been reading my blog for a while know that I don't think the line between what constitutes cheating in sports and what doesn't is as black and white as some would have us believe ("Lance Armstrong and Cheating""Cheating and Sports, Part I: What are the Rules About Breaking the Rules"). For instance, who decides what supplements are legal and which ones aren't? When I played college and professional baseball, I regularly took supplements before and/or after my workouts, and my son, who is gearing up to play college baseball, takes them as well. Why is it that the supplements I took and he takes are legal while other types of supplements are not? It can't be because what my son takes doesn't enhance performance because it almost certainly does. They help him build up his muscles in a shorter amount of time than if he worked out without them.

Or imagine if the US government decided to ban all performance enhancing drugs. Starbucks and Peet's would go out of business because all of those people who swing by for a shot of caffein (which is, after all, a performance enhancing drug) would no longer be able to do so.

All this is not to suggest that I condone the use of steroids. Ingesting them may improve performance but they're bad for our health, and that is reason enough not to take them. The fact that they're bad for us isn't probably a good enough reason to make them illegal. Cigarettes and excess alcohol aren't good for us either, but there isn't a rule preventing athletes from smoking or drinking. I don't claim to know the answer as to where the line should be drawn (and who should decide), but where the line has currently been drawn strikes me as rather arbitrary.

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